In Hong Kong, space is money. The city's notoriously cramped apartments may be a bother to some, but it's a source of inspiration for the city's fast-emerging sharing economy.
Rachel Cheung, founder of startup Rent-a-Suitcase, allows customers to hire luxury suitcase brands like Rimowa and Travelmax starting from $5.80 a day, helping Hong Kongers escape the perennial issue of storage space.
"The idea came up because I needed more suitcases for a family trip but I didn't want to purchase them and store it at home," Cheung told CNBC.
Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely populated areas and even elbow space comes at a premium. The city was named the world's best-performing residential market in the past twelve months with residential prices up 20 percent, according to a September Knight Frank report.
Even shoebox apartments that span 180 square feet—the size of most U.S. parking spaces—are in demand. Known as microapartments or mosquito units, there's nothing small about their price tags, with one 180 square feet property recently selling for more than $500,000, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) noted this week.
That makes businesses like Rent-a-Suitcase a welcome alternative to paying for a bigger apartment.
Cheung initially started out her business with just five suitcases one year ago and is now up to 20. Her approach is more direct compared to general rental sites like the U.K's erento.com or France's zilok.com where users typically peruse several products of varying quality before finding one they like.
So, why just luxury brands? Purely for practical reasons, Cheung says.
"Our suitcases include warranties so if they get damaged during travel, we can repair it without any cost. That's why we chose our brands very cautiously because we consider their durability."